Kwanzaa begins the day after Christmas and runs until January 1. The holiday celebrates the African heritage and the principles of unity, self-determination, cooperation and faith. Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa every year or would like to honor and support those who do, celebrating your own socially distant or virtual Kwanzaa celebrations and inviting others to join is a great way to usher in 2021.
Before we dive into traditional Kwanzaa decorations and the ways you can honor the holidays at home, I’d like to share my personal story. My husband is a nomad from the Sahara region of Morocco in North Africa. Within the Sahara desert, dozens of tribes come together from different origins. Arabs, Berbers, Sahrawis, Tuareg and sub-Saharan Africans coexist. I was unfamiliar with Kwanzaa when we first met, but we spent every vacation with family and friends of all backgrounds in the desert. Together, we begin to celebrate Kwanzaa as it is the perfect way to honor our different cultures and religions in a secular and inclusive way.
That said, Kwanzaa is not a commercial party. It is a time of bonding, gratitude, and setting your intentions for the future. We come together to reflect on the Kwanzaa principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economy, purpose, creativity and faith.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to decorate Kwanzaa, although it’s always fun to fill your home with the wonderful, vibrant colors that represent African holidays and cultures.
Kwanzaa decorations to make your celebration festive
1. Display a Kinara candlestick.
Lighting a candle every Kwanzaa night and reflecting on one of the seven principles is a good way to honor tradition. You can simply keep seven red, black and green candles on hand and light one each night. Or do you have your own Kinara candle holder.
2. Decorate with a Kwanzaa-themed table runner.
The Kwanzaa table at Karamu can be fun and festive with a few simple touches. Corn is an important symbol that represents fertility and harvest. If you still have your dried peels and pumpkins from the Thanksgiving table, add them to your Kwanzaa table or mantel with a colored corridor under.
3. Use Kente cloth to make a crown.
Show others that you celebrate Kwanzaa and support its principles by hanging a wreath made of Kente cloth, the traditional cloth of Ghana, on your doorstep. You can make a crown yourself Kente cloth wrap around a craft store-bought wreath mold. Add touches related to the harvest, such as dried corn husks or pheasant feathers. You can also make other Kwanzaa ornaments using this method.
4. Have fun with Kwanzaa’s photo booth props.
This year, social distancing limits meetings. You can incorporate the principles of unity and creativity into your smaller or virtual Kwanzaa gathering. Create a makeshift photo booth with Kwanzaa Struts at home for your family and roommates to create memories together.
5. Stay safe with the Kwanzaa masks.
COVID-19 has made the mask a necessary element. Why not incorporate a festive mask in Ankara, Kente or another type of African fabric? There are many styles of masks. available on amazon, or if you know how to sew, you can make your own.
6. Make Kwanzaa gift bags suitable for coronavirus.
Continuing the theme of a safe and socially appropriate Kwanzaa, please consider your health and the health of others as a top priority. On the last day of Kwanzaa, you normally give small meaningful gifts, known as Zawadi. You can make small gift bags and include hand sanitizer, masks and wipes as part of your gift. Display these gifts in a large bowl as a colorful centerpiece for your table!
7. Be crafty with a Kwanzaa garland.
Garland is a versatile decoration accessory. You can add it to your Christmas tree, hang it on the wall, place it on the mantelpiece, and more. Look for garlands in the Kwanzaa colors of red, black or green, like this one paper garland on amazon. OR Do your thing with the help of the children using colored beads, fabric or cardboard.
8. Put up paper decorations for the party.
One of my simplest and favorite ways to decorate for Kwanzaa is to stock up on party decoration paper at the local party store. The items are inexpensive, lightweight, and fold flat, which is perfect for when I’m traveling. We like to hang the decorations on poles and in nomad tents, although they don’t last long, kids love to take them to play. Is Kwanzaa decoration kit is available on Amazon.
9. Keep it simple with a pillow of seven principles.
the Nguzo Saba pillow 7 principles It is a great addition to your living room to help remind you and others of the meaning behind Kwanzaa. It is printed with the Kinara candlestick and the seven principles in both Swahili and English.
10. Add style to your table with Kwanzaa-inspired cloth napkins.
Create a special occasion during Kwanzaa, even if you are eating take out, using cloth napkins. the washable napkins shown they are colorful, geometric and festive. Even if you’re serving on plain white plates, a fun napkin adds the perfect touch to your table.
The bottom line
Kwanzaa is a time of celebration where everyone, regardless of race and faith, can come together as a community. Take the time to consider how you can honor your origins, or the origins of others in your community, by celebrating your own socially distant or virtual Kwanzaa festivities or by participating in existing ones. Decorating is simple and can be a fun activity for all members of the family to participate in. Take this creative moment to reflect on the principles of Kwanzaa, what they mean to you, and how you can apply them for the next year.
Are there special decorations for Kwanzaa?
If you want to follow traditional customs, some special decorations that you should include in your décor are the mkeka carpet (which symbolizes a solid base), the kinara (which is a candelabrum with red, black and green candles), corn (which represents the harvest and fertility) and a wooden chalice (representing unity).
What are the traditional colors of Kwanzaa?
The traditional colors of Kwanzaa are red, green and black. You can also incorporate other colors, especially if you are wearing African-inspired prints.
How do you make a mkeka mat for Kwanzaa?
Make a mat for Kwanzaa it’s a fun activity, especially if you can get the kids involved in the process. The easiest way is to use strips cut from different colored construction paper to knit. Lay six strips vertically, equally spaced. Take a strip and start weaving it horizontally over and under each vertical strip. Using a glue stick, glue where the strip interlocks under the vertical piece that secures everything in place.
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a real estate and personal finance journalist for websites such as MSN.com, Freshome.com, and Bankrate.com. Traveling is his passion and the digital nomad allows him to run his small digital content marketing and public relations agency from anywhere the internet is available.